This is a fantastic survey of the AM radio band in North America

After my grandmother gave me a transistor radio for my sixth birthday–something I did not ask for nor knew I wanted–my world immediately got much, much bigger.

All the radio I had known had come from the unit on the kitchen counter or the one in the car, both of which, of course, were controlled by my parents. But with my little Lloyds, I realized that there were dozens, hundreds of other radio stations out there.

Cold Manitoba winter nights were the best, too, thanks to the thickening of the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that act like a giant mirror for distant AM radio signals. Instead of flying off into space in a straight line from the transmitter tower like they do during daylight hours, these signals are reflected back down to Earth, making them (briefly) receiveable hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

This is how I discovered KSTP/Minneapolis, KOA/Denver, WLS/Chicago, WLW/Cincinnati, and so many more. All these voices and songs and newscasts and information magically appearing out of the ether.

I later learned this was called “DXing,” the fun of picking up distance radio stations. AM was best for this because you could do it from any radio (although I also got into shortwave DXing for a while. But I disgress.)

The furthest AM station I ever pulled in was Caribbean Beacon, a religious station broadcasting at 200,000 KW on 1610 Khz out of Anguilla. And when Winnipeg’s CKJS went off the air for maintenance, I picked up a 150,000-watt station in Cidaud Juarez called XEROK-AM.

All that serves as an introduction to a video posted by Canadian Radio News on its Facebook page and relayed by the Southern Ontario Western New York Radio Board. Fun stuff for anyone who has ever DXed.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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